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Last weekend I made the trek up to Uncasville, Connecticut where my friends at Mohegan Sun invited me to head backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena and interview the band Bastille. It was the first time the GRAMMY-nominated quartet played the venue; lead singer Dan Smith and company were fresh in to the North American leg of the “Wild, Wild World Tour” in support of the band’s sophomore effort “Wild World.”

Here are five takeaways from my chat with the group, which was initially broadcasted live on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page, with a bonus fan-submitted question answered on Twitter.

1.) If Bastille could pick one artist to collaborate with at the moment, it would be Rihanna. “We’ve been asked this for years. We keep saying Rihanna and we haven’t heard a word from her,” drummer Chris “Woody” Wood joked.

2.) Smith confirmed that just as the band released a companion remix album for “Bad Blood”, Bastille will give the same treatment to “Wild World.” “It’s just a question of finding the time,” he elaborated.

3.) Bastille is currently writing it’s third album on the road; they have a designated “Writing Room” backstage. Although last Friday, “Woody” primarily used the space more to play FIFA on Xbox than craft Bastille’s next big hit.

4.) The album art for “Wild World” was not snapped from One World Trade Center, but rather “an undisclosed building, somewhere, maybe.” Smith wouldn’t elaborate but did mention that the cover’s creation is actually a focal point in the show’s production (and I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to spoil it for someone who may be reading this in another part of the U.S. before the concert).

5.) General consensus amongst the band led the members to designate guitarist Will Farquarson as the laziest member of the group, although Smith did mention that there are different genres of lazy. We wanted him to elaborate on this too, but perhaps he didn’t feel like exerting himself?

Watch the full interview and bonus clip below.

For Norman Reedus, one of the stars of “The Walking Dead,” his run on the hit AMC show has been rather unexpected.

“I didn’t know I was going to be on the second episode of the first season,” Reedus revealed to me on the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs charity event inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden last week. “I’m excited just to be here, you know what I mean?”

Now seven seasons later, the actor who plays Daryl Dixon has grown accustomed to walking around New York City and hearing adoring fans shout, “Don’t die!”

“I get a lot of police love and firemen love here,” he responded when I asked what fan interactions are like in the city. “(They talk) mostly about the show.”

And while Reedus talks about it comfortably, he admitted that there are some scenarios that he is not fully accustomed to.

“I just came back from Madrid and there were 10,000 screaming people in the streets and sometimes that’s overwhelming,” he admitted. “But it always feels good. I mean we work really hard on that show and we shoot it out in a bubble in the woods of Georgia so, when we come out of that and we get a lot of love it feels good.”

Sometimes he doesn’t even have to leave Georgia to feel the love. When I asked Reedus who the most surprising public figure was to tell him that they enjoyed “The Walking Dead,” he responded with Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I saw her in Savannah; she was there for a ‘Magic Mike’ after-party… I think they wrapped there,” he recalled. “She came up to me at a restaurant and said she really loved the show and I geeked out on her.”

Of course after Reedus’ story on “Fallon” about talk show host Sean Hannity sending endless shots of tequila to him and Dave Chappelle once, the Jada Smith run-in will only rank as the second most-random tale he’s told the media this year. Reedus probably encountered a few more TWD fans at The Garden Of Laughs stand-up comedy show. The event featured performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan and Sebastian Maniscalco. “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones and Bob Saget also performed at the benefit, which raised $2 million for The Garden Of Dreams Foundation to help kids through the tri-state area overcome obstacles.

Reedus has called New York home for almost 20 years; his son attends school in the city and his mother taught class in the Bronx and Harlem.

I still can’t believe they spent five-and-a-half minutes in the middle of a four-hour radio show talking about my two fingers.

Okay, let me backup and explain.

Monday night I was searching through photos on my BlackBerry (go ahead, roll your eyes) and I came across this shot I took of the skyline when I was driving over the RFK Bridge Sunday. I had landed earlier at JFK from my weekend trip to Denver and was riding in a car back to Manhattan with a few friends.

I thought the photo might work well on the radio station’s Instagram and so I loaded it in to the app and started messing with the filters. I landed on a final product that for the most part, I was satisfied with.

“Most part” gets thrown in there because when I was done changing the settings, I noticed that the reflection of my index and middle finger, which I wrapped around the back of the phone to stabilize it, was now noticeable in the photo.

A photo posted by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


Did it matter? Ultimately I naively thought that I was the only one who would notice it enough to detract from the cityscape. So I posted it, people started to like it and I continued on with my show.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning at 11 am. I woke up, looked at my phone and saw 8 missed calls. Every call was from either a private number (which the studio hotline comes up as) or Johnny on the Street.

Turns out that the reflection mattered, at least to Todd and Jayde. In the 8 am hour, right in the middle of the show and on a day when later that hour Ed Sheeran would join the program, the entire cast spent five-and-a-half minutes contemplating what was in the photo.

Jayde guessed a falafel before finally admitting that she thought it looked like “female genitalia.” Annie wondered if it was a fortune cookie. Johnny’s guess was along the lines of Jayde’s but then he went with lips. Monk and Todd joined in on that sentiment… perhaps wax, candy lips? No, too wide they concluded.

How would they really know that?


Anyways, Todd and the crew eventually settled on fingers… the kind that look like everything but fingers. After that, the discussion turned to whether or not I realized the reflection when I posted it.

“Nah I don’t even think he saw it,” Todd stated definitively.

I’ll tell you what I didn’t see: writing a 400 word blog post about a five-and-a-half minute conversation on the morning show about my two fingers.

So I was eating brunch on Wednesday with my friend and long-time show contributor Jordi Lippe at one of my favorite restaurants in the city, the West Village’s Monument Lane.

Sorry but I need to pause this story for a second: a colleague gave me grief when I was telling him this because apparently “brunch” is only a weekend thing. My definition of brunch is breakfast food between 11 am and 3 pm, regardless of the day. Monument Lane has excellent everything and their Breakfast Bowl with poached eggs, barley, squash, red onion, radish and parsley-garlic pesto hit the spot.

Anyways, I look up from my coffee and I see a familiar face strolling down the street, just kind of looking around and smiling; taking it all in.

It was Andy Cohen! He was walking his dog. We made eye-contact, offered a quick nod of the head, and continued about with our business.

What struck me the most about this “celebrity sighting” (which by the way, despite my profession, I am terrible at in the city), is just how happy Cohen looked. Granted it was a relatively nice day outside; I’ll take 40 degrees and clear any day of the week in January. But still, it was nice to see a public figure enjoying a rather normal activity with no one bugging him.

Of course, I took to Twitter after Jordi and I parted ways to post, “I want to feel as happy today as @Andy looked when I saw him walking his dog just now.”

Cohen responded: “my moment of zen!”

And if Cohen, who juggles his reality TV empire at Bravo, his talk show, his satellite radio station and numerous other ventures, can make time for that moment then so can we.

Sure some women grow up with the dream of one day becoming Miss America – but how many of them also envision the crown’s travel schedule, which involves a different state every 48 hours?

“I live in airports and in hotels out of my suitcase,” the current titleholder, Savvy Shields, told me on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The two of us chatted for a few minutes on the third floor of the Good Morning America building after her TV appearance. “It’s been good. I don’t really remember much of it so that’s why I’m trying to journal and if I look at my social media then I remember everything I did.”

The journal idea was something Shields, who represented the state of Arkansas in last year’s competition, mentioned to me when we chatted the day after she won. Since that interview, the 21 year-old hasn’t sat still, but has experienced some cool moments including a trip to the American Music Awards where she joined Florida-Georgia Line on stage.

“(B.K. and Tyler) were fantastic,” she noted. “I mean, we’re southern people so we get along right away.”

With Shields’ personality, it’s hard to envision her not getting along with anyone, nor is it a stretch to think that she’s now getting recognized throughout these travels.

“I’ve gotten a lot of ‘Are you on TV?’” she said. “So it’s like, they know who I am, but it’s not until I have the crown on that they put two-and-two together.”

And contrary to popular belief, Shields isn’t always wearing the crown. Matter of fact, it wasn’t on her head at the AMAs; that and her new hair style that night which featured bangs lead yours truly to not recognize the titleholder, an occurance Shields did not let me forget during our interview. However she also joked that there is another time when people don’t realize she’s Miss America.

“If it’s an ‘airport day,’ they don’t really believe me,” Shields said. “So I mean it really depends!”

There are certainly more “airport days” on her docket, but also some once-in-a-lifetime destinations such as the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards, both of which take place this spring. “Miss America” is produced by Dick Clark Productions, which also handles all of the aforementioned award shows along with “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” another show that Shields participated in. The Arkansas-native didn’t seem to mind the December climate in New York too much.

“Maybe it’s everyone dancing that’s making it not as cold?” she wondering out loud. “I was expecting to be layered in like 7 parkas but I’m actually just down to one so we’re good to go.”

Hopefully for Shields that meant not having to pack or travel with as much; right after witnessing the ball drop she skipped the champagne toast and received an escort out of Times Square to grab a head start on the next part of her never-ending itinerary. Although I’m sure at this point, she couldn’t envision her night any other way.

As the band prepares for its upcoming tour that kicks off later this month, DNCE looks back on 2016 rather fondly.

“Getting a VMA for Best New Artist, that’s really special for us,” was one of the first things lead singer Joe Jonas told me he’ll remember about the year, besides of course releasing the quartet’s debut, self-titled album. “Touring with so many amazing artists and growing our fan base more and more, and we can’t wait just to be able to do it all over again hopefully.”

The LP, which dropped November 18, came out over a year after DNCE’s initial EP. According to Jonas, the prolonged success of “Cake By The Ocean” was one of the reasons for its delay.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he admitted. This was the first time that I had chatted with the group since the album’s unveiling. “Yeah the album’s out, and what a great way to kind of cap the year off with being in Times Square and celebrating with all of these amazing people that are kind of bearing the cold.”

I sat down with Jonas and his bandmates Jack Lawless, Cole Whittle and JinJoo Lee in their hotel suite before the group performed “Cake” and “Body Moves” on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” It was Jonas’ third time performing the event; in 2007 and 2009 he did so with his brothers Nick and Kevin. Lawless, who played drums for The Jonas Brothers, joined those times as well. But for Whittle and Lee, joining a million people to ring in the New Year was a new experience.

“We’re all wearing adult diapers underneath actually, just to keep things legit,” Whittle cracked when I inquired how they were staying warm. He eventually told me that because of how much the band moves around on stage, they wouldn’t have an issue with the temperature outside.

“It’s amazing how many people are waiting all day for this awesome event,” Lee said of her first New Years in Times Square. “I can’t wait to celebrate with all of those people.”

DNCE, which played the Orange Bowl Halftime Show in Florida the night before New Year’s Eve, now heads west for their headlining tour that starts January 17 in San Diego.

“We think the world needs more love,” Jonas responded when I asked if the band had a New Year’s Resolution. “And hopefully we can bring some joy and happiness to people.”

Have you ever walked in to a place, surveyed the area and concluded that someone may have literally picked it up, turned it upside down and then placed it back on its right side?

#TBT from my first trip to Wrigley Field last year.

#TBT from my first trip to Wrigley Field last year.

This is how I felt at 3 am on Thursday morning as I walked in to Kelly’s, one of my favorite East Village haunts. I’m inherently a fan of Kelly’s because it serves as a home for fans of both my Buffalo Bills and Sabres. The wings (and for that matter, anything in the deep fryer) are delicious and the Blue Light is usually a plentiful.

Kelly’s is an interesting spot for a couple of reasons, one being that in addition to housing Bills and Sabres faithful, it also backs the Chicago Cubs and Bulls. So when the Cubs made the World Series, I knew exactly where to go and watch the game. Matter-of-fact, that is what I did for Sunday’s Game 5, a Cubs win in Wrigley.

Of course I was working during Game 7 but after the game finished, around 3 am, I jetted down to the Lower East Side to see if there were any revelers still celebrating. What I walked in to was a semi-madhouse. Keep in mind; it’s the middle of the week.

Forget stools, people were actually still just sitting right on the bar drinking. Or standing on a bench. You couldn’t find a part of the floor your shoes didn’t stick to. And the Blue Light is usually a plentiful, but the watering hole was actually sold out of bottled beer.

I love Kelly’s. Seriously the only thing that made me upset about any of this was that I wasn’t there when the final out was recorded. In lieu of that, here’s some video via Instagram of the celebration that ensued.

A video posted by yasmina (@yazzyfresh3) on


And what you didn’t see was the crowd OUTSIDE the bar, the width of the building and packed back in to the street.

It must have been memorable, because even at 3 am on a weeknight the place was still buzzing. I stayed for a couple of draft brews and then headed up Avenue A to another establishment that I feel a certain kinship towards: the venerable dive bar Niagara. I mean, I am from Niagara Falls after all.

The night finally ended at Sophie’s, which apparently has been an East Village staple for quite some time, although this was my first visit. There are $4 bottled beers, a pool table and a lot of regulars that like to hang out there, even at 4 am last call on a Thursday morning.

An Uber ride and Seamless bodega order later, my night came to an end. It definitely wasn’t how I had planned to spend my Wednesday night. I guess you could say it got turned upside down.

In episode number four of “2 Slices & A Story,” Parachute lead singer Will Anderson explained how he and two of his three siblings ended up in New York after growing up in Virginia, and what his first gig in the city was like.

Fresh off the release of her well-received sophomore LP ‘Better,’ Haley Reinhart stopped by to perform for listeners and chat about the new album, future plans with Casey Abrams and Postmodern Jukebox plus how she landed a gig on Bill Burr’s “F Is For Family.”
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Before his Janie’s Fund charity event at Lincoln Center, Steven Tyler told Ralphie Aversa why he held the concert in New York City.